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This week Flogging Molly, Scissor Sisters, Beck, and Lynne Arriale Trio

Music reviews - 10-25-06 

This week Flogging Molly, Scissor Sisters, Beck, and Lynne Arriale Trio

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Flogging Molly
Whiskey on a Sunday
Side One Dummy Records

One day I was slinging vinyl at Irondequoit’s great, great music store and trying not to laugh as the new guy, Dennis Casey, lamented the roof racks that his van had sacrificed to the low clearance of a parking garage. Casey is now better known as the guitarist for Flogging Molly, and to watch him in a documentary about his successful band so many moons later is positively surreal. The DVD/CD combo Whiskey on a Sunday is a lovely showcase for FM, a scrappy gang that takes traditional Irish music and puts their own raucously tight spin on it. FM is justly renowned for its phenomenal live performances, which the DVD features in spades along with interviews with the band and its rabid fans. Most moving is the tale of FM frontman Dave King, who tells a Cinderella story about a working-class Irish kid whose sacrifice and perseverance far from home ultimately paid off. Principal songwriter King points out the variance between the bleak lyrics and the joyful music, a dichotomy less evident when FM unplugs, as the members do for a few tracks on the accompanying CD. Basically if you dig the band, then you’ll totally enjoy this set. And if you don’t fancy Flogging Molly, you should check your pulse.

--- Dayna Papaleo

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Scissor Sisters
Ta-Dah
Universal Motown

Sophomore slump? I don’t think so. Following up a near-perfect self-titled debut, Scissor Sisters return with a second album that is just as flawless. Start to finish the disc is fun, funky, witty, catchy, and just pure pop/rock/dance bliss.

First single and album opener “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’” kicks off the party, with a wonderful Bee Gees-esque falsetto vocal layered over a thumping modern disco tune. Ana Matronic tackles lead vocals on “Kiss You Off,” a straight-up attitude-filled rock song with a pulsing drum line that’ll make your head bounce. Other notable mentions are “I Can’t Decide” (my personal favorite), “Intermission,” and “Ooh.”

Fast-paced and fun, Ta-Dah shows that the Scissor Sisters know what they’re doing, and they do it damn well. Banjos, horns, bass lines with more funk than a Red Hot Chili Peppers album, and melodies that you can’t wipe out of your consciousness permeate every track on this disc. With tunes this good, it’s a crime the band can’t find a bigger audience here in the States.

--- Todd Rezsnyak

 

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Beck
The Information
Interscope

If Beck’s too-cool ironic pose hadn’t once threatened to suffocate his music, it would never have mattered that he doesn’t get called on it enough. Thankfully, it no longer matters at all --- in 1999, with Mutations, Beck started making every second of every song count and hasn’t looked back since. Clearly he’s found a way to relax and let the music express feeling over attitude. Like its predecessor, Guero, The Information juggles several sincere moods, indulging Beck’s humor but keeping it in-check so that it never gets grating like it often used to. His fifth (!) album that’s completely free of dead space, Information once again shows Beck in full songwriting stride and draws from his many disparate voices at once. This time around, however, instead of re-creating Guero’s smooth amalgamation of those voices, Beck uses the stoned, slinky funk of his Midnight Vultures album as a springboard to strike out in new directions for yet another effortless masterpiece.

--- Saby Reyes-Kulkarni

 

Lynne Arriale Trio
Live
In &Out Records

The new live CD/DVD by the Lynne Arriale Trio may be the wave of the future. Along with the live concert disc, the package contains a DVD of the same concert. If this sounds redundant, think of it as a choice. I’ve listened to the CD many times. When I was ready, I took out the DVD and vicariously experienced the concert in a more involved way. The video footage is beautifully filmed and the DVD also contains a mini-documentary on Arriale and an interview with her. Arriale, who was a hit at the 2005 Rochester International Jazz Festival, is among the finest pianists playing today. She is a superb composer of ballads, two of which --- “Home” and “Arise” --- are included here. But her tour-de-force composition (and performance) is an evocative uptempo classic, “Braziliana.” Her choices of other writers’ tunes are excellent. She begins the album with a fresh take on “Iko Iko,” but rather than imitate Dr. John’s Marti Gras approach, Arriale slows it down, emphasizing the bluesy intrigue of the song. A Beatles cover, “Come Together,” is nicely recast rhythmically and re-harmonized. But perhaps best among her choices is Abdullah Ibrahim’s great “Mountains of the Night.” The DVD-only tune, “Alone Together,” is a wonderful showcase for the trio with bassist Jay Anderson playing a particularly melodic interlude and drummer Steve Davis putting down his brushes for a subtle, yet dynamic, hand-drum solo.

--- Ron Netsky

 

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